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Indian Railways Dump Mud To Block The Homes Of The Locals Of Velsao
Thursday - Apr 4, 2024
Indian Railways Dump Mud To Block The Homes Of The Locals Of Velsao
Margao: After five weeks of unsteady calm in the village, residents of Primeirovaddo, Velsao, had to rush to the streets once again to protest the work of Rail Vikas Nigam Limited (RVNL), who dumped six truckloads of mud and construction debris as part of the proposed railway double tracking works. The bone of contention here is that this dumping of mud and the proposed works are blocking their traditional right of way, given how close this pathway is to their residential houses.
 
While Velsao-Pale-Issorcim sarpanch Maria Diana Goveia, along with the villagers, rushed to the site and raised their objections to the dumping of mud in the right of way of the local community, their complaints were not entertained by RVNL officials, who continued with the construction work. It is to be noted that RVNL is carrying out the double tracking work on behalf of South Western Railway (SWR). Goveia also pointed out that the manner in which the work is being carried out, as has happened in the past as well, was also causing disturbance to the locals given the loud noise and dust pollution associated with such works.
 
Orville Dourado Rodrigues, Goencho Ekvott (GE) founder, was deeply upset that RVNL refused to acknowledge the letters they had from the Directorate of Settlement & Land Records (DSLR), as RVNL claimed they had not received such official communication. “The works by RVNL commenced today despite a letter to stop work issued by DSLR until the land survey is conducted and the land rights of local residents are established. RVNL refuses to stop their illegal activities unless a stop work order is issued to them,” said Rodrigues.
 
Locals criticised the Directorate of Settlement and Land Records and other officials for failing to offer them any support. They lamented that the authorities had instead left them to sort out the issue on their own. Thus far, DSLR has failed to carry out an inspection of the lands, even though its head office had sent instructions in writing to its South Goa office to carry out this inspection.
 
The locals stressed that this would show additional proof where the boundary lines of privately owned properties are given that the railways have encroached upon private lands in the past. “The railway route was laid in the 1890s on an existing carriageway, with all residences facing the carriageway on either side. In their wisdom, our ancestors constructed storm water drains and the Right of Way (ROW), which the SWR is now claiming as land in their possession! This land has never been in their possession and has been used by the locals to access their houses; some use this land as a motorable ‘road’ for bikes and cars. If the second track does become a reality, then there will be no motorable access for the local residents,” said Rodrigues.
 
On a related note, speaking specifically about the right of way, Rodrigues pointed out that this land does not have survey numbers. “All land that does not have survey numbers is deemed to be government land, meaning either local government (panchayat), State and/or Central government. However, there is a rider to that. If there are any land rights before the land survey was promulgated in 1971, then these rights would take precedence. And that’s exactly where the SWR will get bogged down, provided, of course, that the locals are ready to contest this in court,” Rodrigues added.
 
At the moment, with no other legal recourse available, the residents are preparing to approach the courts. Former Cortalim MLA and ex-Minister Alina Saldanha lamented that those who live by the tracks are facing the brunt of the air and sound pollution and are now in a position where they may lose their land, and she said it was the bounden duty of the government to respond to their concerns and queries. Saldanha demanded that the government first carry out a survey to assess the condition of the houses located near the first track before work on the second track is taken up.

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Comments (1)
Rupesh Pednekar
Thursday - Apr 4, 2024
Indian railways have always been doing this in Goa, changing their routes as per their liking with the idea of usurping land and houses from the native Goans and putting up their families in those homes. Our Goans had closed their eyes and are now opening eyes because they are attacked by Indians.
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